Diane Ribbon & Notion in its Final, Faded, 90-Percent-Off Days

"Diane took it really hard today," the clerk said, bagging up the purchases of the last customer of the day, yesterday afternoon, at Diane Ribbon & Notion, a craft supply warehouse favored by Phoenix artists and the latest casualty of what economists are struggling to name, but for these purposes we'll just call the Really Bad Economy.

Looking around the huge warehouse at 2319 W. Holly Street in Phoenix -- located inconveniently, sort of in between the fairgrounds and the I-17 -- it's easy to see why Diane Rust, the store's namesake, would feel sad.

Her place is a shell of its former fabulous self.

Diane Ribbon used to be packed floor to ceiling with shelves of beads, ribbons -- even a long row of boxes of doll parts. There was a whole section devoted to miniatures, box after box of bare straw hats waiting to be decorated. A lot of macrame materials.

It was easy to get lost inside. We once described it as Michael's on acid. Much of the merch was/is obviously circa 1970s, and the customers -- including downtown artists, notably Beatrice Moore, grand dame of Grand Avenue -- most definitely liked it that way.

We can't wait to see what the artist Suzanne Falk does with the flocked squirrels she was crowing about on Facebook last week. A warning, if you want some for yourself: That was before the prices hit this week's rock bottom.  

Now through Saturday, all that's left at Diane (no possessive, Robrt L. Pela actually asked her about that once in an interview ) is 90 percent off. And it's a sad assortment that's been left behind for the real bargain hunters, just a couple sections of ribbon, some dried-up looking paint. 

Unless you look hard. OK, not even that hard. We arrived just before closing (Diane's open 8:30 am to 4:30 pm -- sharp, weekdays). In five minutes, we managed to fill a big brown grocery bag to the rim with doll parts (including some scary witch hands); miniatures from teeny tiny paper towel rolls to a matchbox sized cuckoo clock (not functional); a "sad hobo" head; a plastic Santa face; and a whole lot of googly eyes, in assorted sizes. (And those are just the highlights. We also scored some flocked dinosaurs and ducks; alas, no flocked squirrels.)

Total cost: under $10, including the $1 fee for using a debit card.

"Come back tomorrow when you can really look," the clerk said, handing over the grocery bag. "We're open til Saturday at noon."

Diane closes forever on January 31.